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Poster: dooglar64 Date: May 11, 2011 11:00am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: touch heads

Interested in hearing more about what an actual influence touch of grey was to the scene... i hear the term being thrown around a lot, but would like to hear thoughts or recollections on what was going on and how it affected things. i never saw the dead, so i have no perspective, but it seems interesting to me that a song would bring such an influx of 'fans' to such a unique and dedicated scene

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Poster: skuzzlebutt Date: May 11, 2011 12:39pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: touch heads

I always hated the term because I actually loved "Touch of Grey" as far as the shorter, up-tempo Jerry tunes went (not as good as "Bertha", little bit better than "Alabama Getaway", but the same general class of tune). Nothing I wanted to hear as a show closer, mind you, but fine in the first set. Then it became a hit (along with In the Dark, the album that spawned it) and soon inexorably linked to a certain type of rowdy, obnoxious, there-for-the-party "fan" that had been trickling into the scene for a few years (see Richmond '85, which was largely blamed on the police but trust me, the crowd did their share), but began showing up by the tens of thousands starting around 1987.

As the other responders have noted, what you started to see then was a real change in the expectations of the crowd. People were showing up for the party whether they had tickets or not; some didn't even seem to care about seeing the show as long as they got their hands on some good drugs. The idea seemed to be that a Dead show was a hedonistic free for all first and a musical event second. Gate crashing, vandalism, clashes with police- these things weren't new to rock and roll concerts, but they'd never been been a noticeable part of the Dead's scene up until this point, and Deadheads had a reputation as a slightly weird but basically docile crowd. By the early 90s, though, the word was out among municipalities that had previously welcomed the band: don't book them; the income isn't worth the hassle.

One thing that that sometimes gets lost in the discussion about that period is that, at least in the beginning, the band was most willing to exploit their newfound popularity, with a new emphasis placed on moving the Grateful Dead brand in the marketplace. Videos, better merchandising...by early '88 GD music and images were everywhere. Garica indicated as much when he said "We've been willing to sell out on some levels for some time, but nobody's been buying." Later, when the negative pressure brought by this success became more obvious, they did try to take steps to relieve it somewhat, but by then it was largely too late.

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Poster: Dudley Dead Date: May 11, 2011 3:56pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: touch heads

It was definitely a double edged sword for the band, for the first time in a long time they were financially above water . And, outsiders for not, it must have nice to get a little respect . It was nice when they could sell enough seats that they could do 3 night instead of 1 , that was tripple the fun for me ! But it did bring all the problems stated in the other posts . The problems that beset the bigger shows, were not unique to the Dead, note all the recency complaining about rude/noisy/stupid crowd behavior , So some of it , I think, had to do with the "Mega-Dead" period, ( and the popular conception :Grateful Dead = excess , translated "let's get as trashed as we can, and by the way , fuck you " ) and part of it is social devolution .

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Poster: Dudley Dead Date: May 11, 2011 4:13pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: touch heads

" By the early 90s, though, the word was out among municipalities that had previously welcomed the band: don't book them; the income isn't worth the hassle."

I remember going into a store a few days after a late 80's run at Irvine Meadows , and hearing a cop talk disparaging about the Dead and the crowd and at these shows .
And what really pissed me off was ,he was right ! I had seem a lot of stupid and destructive behavior that weekend . And there was nothing I could have said to the smart assed cop . I was angry , and embarrassed .

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Poster: fenario80 Date: May 11, 2011 6:07pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: touch heads

Sober as a judge, I walked up to a group of cops outside of Irvine after one of those late-80's atrocities, thanked them all for being there, and told them they ought to be pissed at the people who organized the show, and not at the crowd.

The freeway was under contruction, so were half the parking lots, and - worst of all - there weren't nearly enough site security to process the crowd at the door (I missed half the first set waiting in line to get in).

Of course the next day I read about the gate-crashers - and the exquisite morons who got themselves lost and accidentally broke into Lion Country Safari next door.

I have to give those cops extra credit for not kicking my self-righteous ass and locking me up for the night.

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Poster: Dudley Dead Date: May 12, 2011 7:34am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: touch heads

Oh yeah, the Irvine Meadows folk deserve blame for the troubles .
The parking was and is a problem . Just getting in , was always a hassle: we used to say we would rather they play Long Beach, ( we were the San Juan Capistrano area, a short distance, from Irvine, but we figured it would be quicker to drive all the way to Long Beach, because we wouldn't spend hours trying to get in !) The real nightmare year was when they had the concerts the same time as the EL Toro Marine base had an air show .
I remember one time driving into the lot and some kids are holding up a box of cereal, yelling "dosed Grapenuts, dosed Grapenuts ", funny, but stupid also .

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Poster: lobster12 Date: May 12, 2011 8:12am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: touch heads

To expand on SDH's comments. There was a full saturday devoted to the grateful Dead on MTV called "Day of the Dead" Close to 20 hours of GD related material. Unheard of at the time and was probably a huge catalyst since there were tons of behind the scenes features at shows and parking lots, ect

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Poster: SpacedAgain Date: May 12, 2011 10:36am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: touch heads

I came in right before the touchheads. I think a big part of it was a reaction to Reaganism and the Cold War, which had an apocalyptic tinge. And where else could you have so much fun without being hassled?

The 20th anniversary was a push but only after Jerry's coma did Touch of Grey have that special hook that the pop version could leverage.

For me, it meant the loss of Kaiser as favored venue, which got ruder with crowding on the floor and the vending scene causing problems after the show. Similar but later for the Greek at UC/Cal especially after someone pooped on a chancellors lawn. The last Laguna Seca Days was also going down-the-drain weird, but the last Frost shows featured some truly obnoxious frat boys and some angry vibes that were apparently smoothed over later by invitations to Bohemian Grove.

One bee in my bonnet was that no matter how early you show up, vast amounts of seats were saved for people who wouldn't be there for hours. The tour-ists thought they owned the whole lower third of Oakland Coliseum.

Changing states of friendships made shows harder to enjoy in the 90s, as did more uneven performances, odd sounds from the keyboard, and Jerry's palor (very disappointing at times closer at Shoreline).

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Poster: Jim F Date: May 14, 2011 12:14am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: touch heads

"Similar but later for the Greek at UC/Cal especially after someone pooped on a chancellors lawn"

Haha!

I have a friend who went to a festival once and woke up to find that at some point during the night someone took a dump in the middle of his campsite. I'll never forget laughing my ass off as he told me how he crawled out of his tent that morning and saw a log right there. Guy just laid heat right in the middle of someone's campsite...I mean, wow. Though wasn't there a report a while back about some guy at a Phish show who was found drawing on the walls of a portapotty with human excrement? I think he's got the other guy beat.

But it was just one of those cases of someone getting bad neighbors at one of those campout things they are calling "music festivals" these days. The whole experience really turned him off, and I don't think he ever went back again.

Sorry, at the moment I don't have much content to add to the discussion about Toucheads. Just poop stories.

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Poster: utopian Date: May 11, 2011 12:39pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: touch heads....actually

That's a misnomer. It's should actually be 'in the dark heads' which was the album that rekindled the deads comercial career, and brought the masses.

When the song Touch of grey came out in 82(?) it never denoted any change in fanbase. When the album came out in 87 the video was on MTV, the song was on the radio, and the frat boys/ suburban kids started coming to the shows to score. They also did a huge dylan summer tour in 87, which my dad got backstage tix. They were doing the biggest stadiums, and asked to never return to the small venues.

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Poster: SomeDarkHollow Date: May 11, 2011 11:17am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: touch heads

Not sure if it was the one song, but it certainly opened up the floodgates of national attention. After the song came out and somehow made the national charts, the media outlets saw the appeal among college kids and knew they could make some quick cash. All of a sudden the Boys were all over MTV and the radio. Interviews, TV Specials and many other commercial ventures sprang up everywhere. This brought the band to the attention of folks who otherwise man never have noticed them. This is not necessarily a negative. Many of the "new" folks were there because they found a true love for the music, but because they cast the net so widely, unfortunately alot of folks started showing up for the wrong reasons: lets see how many drugs we can take at one time, I hear hippie chicks are easy (even though they may look like they have Buckwheat in a headlock), if it's on MTV it must be cool, etc.

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Poster: TOOTMO Date: May 11, 2011 1:35pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: touch heads

"I hear hippie chicks are easy (even though they may look like they have Buckwheat in a headlock),"

That reminds me of the concert review where the reviewer tells about the hippie chick wanting him to "love her from behind". So, he obliges her. Of course, intense itching several days later reveals the true extent of her "gift".

Anybody know what show that is?

TOOTMO


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Poster: bluedevil Date: May 11, 2011 2:31pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: touch heads

Richmond - '85.

http://www.archive.org/details/gd85-11-01.oade.connor.9217.sbeok.shnf

and to think that SDH also lost his shoes that night...

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Poster: TOOTMO Date: May 11, 2011 7:08pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: touch heads

well, obviously, BD, you paid attention 1st semester during LR&W. That's the show and review I was talking about.
Not a bad show, if I recollect properly.


TOOTMO

Edit: Obviously not a bad show if it ended with the 37th "Day Job" encore. (I hate when that gets stuck in my head.)

This post was modified by TOOTMO on 2011-05-12 02:08:30

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Poster: bluedevil Date: May 11, 2011 9:00pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: touch heads

Day Job encore?
http://www.archive.org/post/294796/france-dedicated-to-lia

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Poster: TOOTMO Date: May 12, 2011 6:21am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: touch heads

You, Sir, are a scholar and a gentleman.

Wonder how Capt. Cook is coming with his "France" opus?

Here is a tasty DJ to start your day: http://www.archive.org/details/gd85-11-16.sbd.18374.sbeok.shnf

Don't be fooled: They have "DJ" listed as track 9 but its true position is firmly at the backend of this show. You can feel the crowd's excitement build as they wonder what encore they will be served. AND SERVED THEY WERE. As the first notes of "DJ" flutter out the amps and across the Long Beach Bay and onward to Polynesia and points beyond, the crowd retches with enthusiasm and sheer joy—SHEER JOY, ya hear me.

TOOTMO

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Poster: reviewr Date: May 11, 2011 11:36am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: touch heads

I saw several GD shows between '82 and '85, and several more between '90 and '93. My experience is that tickets were easier to come by in the '80's, even some available at the box office the day of the show (Alpine Valley). Also, in the earlier years the crowd was more attentive to the music and more respectful of each other. There seemed to be more of a communal feel. In the '90's there seemed to be a group of people who felt buying a ticket to a GD show allowed them to loose all self control. Also, a group of people that seemed to like to just have a look around. Like they went home and said "hey, guess what crazy thing I did last night".

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: May 12, 2011 4:47am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: touch heads (are a media myth?)

I think there are a couple factors in the alleged "Touchhead" thing, and the song was only tangential. This is just my own speculation, but ...

First, I think the scene itself was getting bigger around '85 or so. Perhaps it was the 20th anniversary. Perhaps it was the rediscovery of the 60s that seemed to be going on then. One factor is that you had a different generation -- or mini-generation -- coming up, and they were Gen Xers and not Tail-End Baby Boomers, so the scene was now being created by people without personal recollections of the 60s, but a great and often romanticized passion for it.

One thing this meant, at least as I recall, was a more self-conscious, self-referential enacting of the notion of Being a Deadhead. One visible difference was the sheer amount of tie dye that suddenly appeared. I think it was partly an anti-Reagan era thing -- an insistence on countercultural values -- so I thought it was pretty cool and encouraging at the time. "We will survive," right? But it was definitely a change, at least in my experience, and a sign of other changes in attitude, too.

Then, enter the media. This is sort of an insider's view here, since I spent the Mega-Dead era as a card-carrying member of the Evil Media (literally card-carrying, on occasion ... it's great for getting to the front at a show, LOL!) and I did, in fact, manage on several occasions to write about the band. But to pitch a story to your editor, you need ... drumbeat, please ... a hook!

"20th (or 25th) anniversary" is a good hook. So is "the first real hit." The most common hook that reporters pitched was undoubtedly "they've had a number one hit and now they've got all these new people following them in tie dye and, whoa, check THIS out, readers! The '60s survive!" That would definitely intrigue the editor (and photo editor).

So, the media started to do these silly sea-of-tie dye stories because they were fun to do. And most folks in the media writing about the GD weren't Deadheads, so the results tended to be stereotyped. (I recall being at a press conference in '90 or so, and it was supposed to be about Mickey's book, but I think I was the only one who had pitched that angle to my editor. Everyone else seemed to be doing "sea of tie dye." Geez, there were SO many dumb questions ... I felt kinda bad for him.)

Hence, the snowball effect. First, an increasingly self-conscious enacting of an idealized version of the 60s on the part of the crowd; then a media that easily latched onto that, particularly when there was an unexpected hit as a hook; then more people heard about the GD in ways that were colored by media depictions of a traveling Woodstock; then even MORE folks came on board to get in on the party, but now often in the wrong way ....

The song itself? Well, just a media hook, really. I doubt many new fans were particularly obsessed with it. But what a great hook! "We will survive"? For a no-hit band that's still "truckin'" on its "long strange trip" even though the members all have "a touch of gray"? It would be awfully hard for most writers on a deadline to pass up THOSE obvious lines, particularly when they're not Deadheads and are really just doing a fun story that gets them out of the newsroom!

So ... that's my theory. It was the media's easy way to describe the phenomenon of Mega-Deadness that was beginning to happen partly on its own. And it stuck and snowballed.

Actually, I think I've even got documentary evidence (stop the presses!) that the "Touchhead" phenomenon was happening prior to In the Dark. This is an interview done for promotion of that album. As I recall, there are references to "the band's resurgence" and "maybe it's just that our time has come" and so on. I haven't relistened, but I think it's where Phil is talking about singing again.

http://www.archive.org/details/gd87-01-01.sbd.unknwon.23067.shnf

Anyway, it's a fascinating listen, and if I'm right on that ... well, obviously no Touchheads-To-Be could have heard Touch yet, right? (It had been played for a long time, but no one who was theoretically going to be drawn to the GD by the hit would have heard it.) So the resurgence was happening BEFORE the album. Having a hit just gave the snowball an extra push, and the media had fun painting that snowball in rainbow colors.

As for the "Touchhead" name ... well, my guess is that it was just the DH community's catchy way to describe the new arrivals, with a disparaging overtone because of the changing environment at shows. Not a real reflection of the complex things that drew so many new arrivals to the scene.

My wordy 200 cents on a rainy day :-)





This post was modified by AltheaRose on 2011-05-12 11:47:41

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Poster: Finster Baby Date: May 12, 2011 9:16am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: touch heads (are a media myth?)

No way you could have been part of the "main stream" media,
AR. Your post is waaaay to well written. haha

You bring up many great points. I agree that the surge began before 1987. I was first introduced to the band in 1982 (my first year of high School). My first show was 1984. I kind of felt at the time like I was part of an upsurge in popularity for the band. It was "cool" to be a deadhead when I was in school. It was kind of a clique unto itself. i.e.--- jocks, motor heads, nerds, burnouts, deadheads, etc. I think this resurgence of the band was happening slowly during this time, it just really picked up speed after In The Dark came out, for many of the reasons that you stated.
the funny thing about Touch was that prior to 1987 it was one of my favorites. I remember when I first started hearing it on the radio, thinking wow, this is really cool.
Finally, the GD getting some air play. I think that lasted maybe a week at most. Like every other song that ever made the charts, it got played to death. It got overpalyed to the point that for the longest time after that, I almost hated it. I didn't even want to hear it at shows.

anyway....I'm done rambling. I mainly wanted to just say thanks for your post. Well written and spot on as far as I can see. The interview you linked is pretty cool, too!

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Poster: J2ME Tutorial02 Date: May 12, 2011 10:22am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: touch heads (are a media myth?)

Hi there,
I had read all your quries and I think I have something for you.
Thanks.
-----------------------
J2ME Tutorial

This post was modified by J2ME Tutorial02 on 2011-05-12 17:22:06

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Poster: J2ME Tutorial02 Date: May 12, 2011 10:21am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: touch heads (are a media myth?)

Hi there,
I had read all your quries and I think I have something for you.
Thanks.
-----------------------
J2ME Tutorial

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Poster: reviewr Date: May 12, 2011 2:24pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: touch heads (are a media myth?)

Interesting perspective.